After the successful rollout of the mobile page experience update between June and August 2021, Google is now planning for desktop. The ranking system is set to launch in February and finish rolling out in March 2022.
Page experience will be a major ranking factor from February, and many websites will see dramatic changes in SERPs.
“While this update is designed to highlight pages that offer great user experiences, page experience remains one of many factors our systems take into account… Given this, sites generally should not expect drastic changes,” said Google.
What is Page Experience Ranking?
According to Google, page experience is a set of rank signals that measures how users interact with a web page beyond its informational value. These search signals include loading performance, interactivity, and visual stability.
Plus, existing ranking signals such as HTTPS, intrusive interstitial guidelines, and mobile-friendliness. When combined, these metrics give Google a clear indication of how users will interact with your page.
The ranking factor is successfully picking up mobile signals, and there are some big changes on the way.
Desktop Page Experience Signals
Just like the mobile update, the desktop version will consider several page experience signals. These include the Core Web Vitals, First Input Delay (FID), Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), and Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS). Further aspects include interstitials and server security (HTTPS).
Interstitials are web pages that appear before or after the expected content. For example, a popup that blocks a view of the webpage. These may seem like a great way to advertise, but your users (and Google) hate it.
So, it’s a great time to rethink those popups for your weekly newsletter or latest sponsor.
Optimizing Desktop Page Experience
So, how can you fix up your desktop page experience? If you haven’t already been improving your mobile pages, now’s the time to check your Core Web Vitals, HTTPS Security, and interstitials.
These optimizations will improve your overall score for pages well before they roll out. Plus, you can kill two birds with one stone and get both versions up to scratch.
First, let’s start with any popup banners (interstitials) you might be using. Instead of opting for full-page blocks, change to banners that take up a reasonable amount of space. A reasonable amount is less than one-fifth of the screen on mobile at the top or bottom of the page, a cookie notice, or an age verifier.
Fixing Core Web Vitals
Another crucial factor is the Core Web Vitals, which have more influence than you’d expect. According to Google, these are a significant ranking factor.
John Mueller revealed on Reddit that Core Web Vitals are worth paying attention to:
“It is a ranking factor, and it’s more than a tie-breaker, but it also doesn’t replace relevance. Depending on the sites you work on, you might notice it more, or you might notice it less. As an SEO, a part of your role is to take all of the possible optimizations and figure out which ones are worth spending time on.”
Issues with Mobile Page Experience
For more than four months, Google has overcounted mobile experience data in Search Console reports. The issue has persisted from June 29th to November 1st and has affected every report.
A return to the correct data is now available, but your search console performance will look less populated after November 1st. With that said, expect some fluctuations after the desktop update.
Desktop Page Experience Conclusion
Desktop page experience is just one of the hundreds of signals that determine to rank. So, don’t bank on this improvement keeping you on top.
After all, there are plenty of other updates coming to the algorithm in the coming year. Still, it won’t hurt to improve your pages as much as possible before an update.
Since most of the ranking factors are still a mystery, focusing on mobile and desktop page experience signals might be worth the effort.